This summer we were on a day hike in the Smoky Mountains. We came across a beautiful group of yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies. As we got closer, we could see why they were so tightly gathered. They were all feeding off of the salts and minerals in a big pile of horse manure. These beautiful creatures were getting sustenance from something we’d rather not see, and certainly not step in. The butterflies were benefiting from the poop. It was important. It wasn’t just gross or wasteful or ugly. It had a purpose. It’s interesting. We know not to judge a book by its cover, we have been taught not to assume, we’ve been encouraged to be ourselves, follow our passions, stay true to our dreams, that we’re allowed to get messy in the process. I don’t think there’s one of us who hasn’t heard this advice.
And this is also what I see. I see images everywhere that have been “cleaned up” to make people look more conventionally beautiful. I see people afraid to let others know what they really like or care about, afraid to share their creations, afraid to share their real selves. Afraid to share the messiness.
And who might blame them? We live in a snarky world, full of people (many anonymous) ready to make a snippy comment or cutting remark. Ready to judge, judge, judge and find us coming up short.
Here’s the thing – we can’t make that potential for judgment go away. We can simply stay in our business, living our lives. And when we’re honest about ourselves and take the unnecessary judgment off ourselves (and others), we’re leading the way for others to do the same. Then we can enjoy simply being alive.
Here’s a recent photo I took and shared:
Those beautiful night-blooming flowers by the outdoor tub? They are also popular with the giant roaches (lovingly called palmetto bugs) who also live outside. The tub has duct tape over the overflow hole and a rust-stained bottom.
All of that doesn’t discount the beauty of the flowers, just like the horse manure doesn’t discount the beauty of the butterflies.
Oh, also. There’s dust on the twinkly Christmas lights in our bathroom. There are crumbs in our car. Sometimes I don’t do the dishes. Sometimes we eat popcorn for dinner.
That doesn’t discount the pretty meals I make with farmers’ market tomatoes or the laughter in the kitchen or the love in our house.
I think we all need to give ourselves a little bit of a break. And be ourselves.
You know these picture on this website? The photos are waay natural. They are me. When you meet me, that’s what I look like. I’m wearing hardly any makeup, which is normal for me (unless it’s WIGS and WIGS night or Mardi Gras!) I have wrinkles around my eyes. My hair is not really “done” – it never is! My teeth are not blindingly white, or particularly straight.
That doesn’t discount the light in my eyes, or the love I have of working with people to help them find their right life.
Sometimes I feel like more butterfly, less manure, and sometimes the other way around, but either way, it’s the being real that makes me who I truly am.
What can you put in these blanks? I ______________________, but that doesn’t discount _________________________ Email me your answers or put them in the comments!